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tv   Meet the Author  BBC News  April 27, 2017 8:45pm-9:01pm BST

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well, i think it's very important for everyone to understand that this isn't a political decision and that cleaning up the air isn't a matter of politics. what thejudge said, very, very clearly is when you have a legal obligation, and a court order, to do something as important as protect the public health by cleaning up the air, politics does not come into it. the government is considering whether to appeal. whatever it does, the court's ruling will eventually have an impact on millions of drivers, as new measures to tackle pollution come a little closer. with me is anna jones, clean—air campaigner at the environmental charity greenpeace uk. you must be over the moon? really happy that the court found in the favour of client earth. the government has delayed action on air pollution. it has already been to court twice. this shows we need to
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ta ke court twice. this shows we need to take the action that we know we need to ta ke take the action that we know we need to take and the judge has backed take the action that we know we need to take and thejudge has backed us on that. why do you think they dilated and are trying to appeal, possibly? we hope it does not go to appeal. we need action on air pollution, it is a huge threat to human health, the judge pollution, it is a huge threat to human health, thejudge said that. thejudge said the human health, thejudge said that. the judge said the continued failure of government was a real threat to human health, it is affecting young children with asthma, all the people with lung and heart conditions, people across the population, and it is causing premature deaths in loads of places across the uk, and something needs to be done. we need action at the local level, proper resourcing for local authorities to getair resourcing for local authorities to get air pollution under control, we need other action as well, like bringing the car companies into line, he continued to put out cars that are pumping out way above the limits that they should be in terms of pollution. we need a range of
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action, and that is what this plan should include, we hope tom but also what we will see in this plan is an admission that air pollution is a lot worse than the government was trying to argue previously, and what we need to see if that people can see how bad it is and what is affecting them, and then be looking to ta ke affecting them, and then be looking to take action on that. we do say it isa to take action on that. we do say it is a lot worse, what don't we know? the government was moderate —— modelling the problem based on out of date figures, and we know that the car industry has been putting out cars that produce more pollution than they should be giving, said the government. to increase the emissions factor i6 times as much to ta ke emissions factor i6 times as much to take into account that pollution which we did not think was coming out of our cars. he mentioned putting pressure on the car companies, action that the government had to do, city councils and resourcing, it sounds obvious,
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but how achievable is that, and what are we talking in terms of time?m is absolutely achievable, we have the technology, we need to move to hybrid and allegedly a call is and we need to get those onto our roads much faster, we need help for drivers to make the switch, and the longer we leave it, the harder the action becomes the stop we hope that the government will not appeal the decision. now it's time for meet the author. faith and reason, and the gothic imagination, the ingredients of sarah perry's bestselling novel, the essex serpent. we're in the 18905 and cora seaborne, newly widowed, leaves london for the country, where she encounters a community terrified by the apparent return of a fabled monster. her interest in nature leads her to believe that it's real. the local vicar believes it's the product of a pagan imagination. they argue a good deal. they also, more or less, fall in love. it's a rich tale of obsession, mystery and belief. welcome.
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i suppose it's a story, really, about fear, isn't it? it is. and it's a story about the way that fear affects from people in different ways, according to their age, their gender, their preconceived ideas about the world. and how an imagined, or unimagined, monster can be very different to different sets of people. there's a sense in which it's a period which reflects some of the obsessions of our own? very much so. one of the things i wanted to do was, in perhaps a slightly mischievous way, wrong—foot the reader, who might feel that they're reading a victorian novel, set in the world of crinolines and fainting wives, pea—soupers, and instead find themselves reading about the trades union congress, the london underground,
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the birth of feminism, scientific developments. so i wanted to invite the reader to interrogate how far we've come since the end of the 19th century and whether the end of the 19th century was actually more modern than we ever allow ourselves to think. and at the heart of the story is the argument, really, between two people who also then have a romantic attachment. the vicar, who is married, and the newly widowed woman who arrives in the country. of course, they have a very different response to this apparent appearance of a serpent, a monster in the midst of the community. she thinks it's a natural event, because she wants it to be a dinosaur. he says it's all got to do with a breakdown in faith. yeah. a very interesting collision. it is. i think that's another reason why the end of the 19th century are so interesting for me. i think debates around science and reason, the extent to which faith and science are antagonists, and whether or not
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they can support each other. or if they are? or if they are, precisely. it's something that is very much part of the dialogue now and is a debate that's been going on for a very long time. what i wanted to do was disrupt the idea that a man of faith like will would be a man of superstition and fear. actually, he's presented as being a man of reason. and that a man of science, like cora, or a woman of science, like cora, would be the reasonable and rational one. actually, she is rather given to emotional display and not getting things quite right. well, indeed. and the distinction is not as clear as we might first think? exactly. the intriguing thing about your story is that there is the excitement of how to interpret this phenomenon that apparently has turned up in the community. but alongside it is, if you'll forgive me putting it like this, in this phrase, an old—fashioned love story? i wanted to present a relationship that seemed to be somewhere on a slightly indefinable spectrum, between an intellectual curiosity and an argument that comes between intellectual opposites.
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emotional intimacy and romance, at what point does it switch from one thing to another? i think it's important to say to people that haven't read the book yet, perhaps, that although you have these ideas running through your head and you wanted to communicate the nature of this argument to the reader, in the end, it's a story. i mean, it's a story about a community that is gripped by fear and excitement. that is what draws the reader in? i hope so. more than anything else, i'm a storyteller. i'm a great spinner of yarns. i'm given to boring on at great length about anecdotes around family and friends, things that have happened to myself. that's what a good novel does. ideally, however high the ideas, however much you want to interest or educate, really it should be about a cracking story that can pass the time on a wet weekend. but it's also true that what you display in this book, which is a wonderful read, enthralling read, is an affection for the gothic imagination.
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i mean, it's a kind of gothic novel, isn't it? very much so. i'm very, very interested in what he gothic actually is. interestingly, you could lock three orfour academics in a room, with no bread or waterfor ten hours, and not let them out until they have agreed on a definition of the gothic. they'll starve, because it's something that people are constantly debating. the gothic is a feeling. it's a sensation, is not a genre. it's the feeling that there is something that we don't quite understand. "am i mad, or did i just see that thing? if i am mad, is that worse than a monster?" we all have fears that we, to some degree, enjoy. i mean, we enjoy treading on the edge of an abyss, in a way, in our minds, don't we? that's what we all do. we do. i think what a really good gothic novel does, what i wanted to try to emulate, his arouse in the reader similar sensations to those felt by the characters. so, a successful gothic novel will leave the reader feeling as unnerved and as uneasy as the characters who are
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encountering these fears themselves. so, a reader of a gothic text like dracula would be invited to think, what is it that i desire that i ought not to desire? so, you're drawn into the book like one of the characters. what kind of cracking stories did you grow upon? i sense that you've a love for the victorian novel, just by the way you attack this period. i mean, attack in a sense of being a writer who immerses himself in it? yes. i had a very interesting background. my parents were members of a strict baptist chapel and i was brought up with very little access to popular culture. so, actually, i was raised on the king james bible, which is one succession after the other of cracking yarns. well, if you want to write good english... exactly, in terms of exposure to cracking ideas, extraordinary prose, but also one story after another of heroism, and betrayal, and mystery, and strangeness, and magic, all incorporated in this one book. because we didn't have a television and i didn't go to the cinema, and all the rest of it, i immersed myself instead in what was available in the house,
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which tended to be 19th century literature, foxe's book of martyrs, bunyan, and what all of these have in common is storytelling. yes. and so did you always know you were going to be, in some form, a storyteller? i did, very much so. in a way that i find very difficult to convey how intense this feeling is. the analogy i always use is that most women i know have always known that they would one day be a mother. i have always known, in that sort of visceral, "there's no point in my existing if i don't do it" kind of way, that i will tell stories in some way. whatever period i would have been born into, i would have been a storyteller of one kind or another. what you've done in this book, of course, is to play with, but also to respect, a tradition. i mean, you enjoy writing a story, telling a story of the kind that you grew up reading. you're not interested in experiment. i mean, you want to obviously do something original with your characters, and have them stepping outside stereotypes, of course, but you are also paying homage
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to a storytelling tradition that you love? that's right. what i wanted to do simultaneously pay homage to and interrogate it. for example, one of the things i did was shy away from the kind of language we associate with i9th—century novels. so, nobody rides in a carriage. they call a cab. people do not speak to mama and papa, they speakto mum and dad. they go to a pub, rather than to an inn. in that sense, i was very much enjoying the tropes of i9th—century fiction and gothic fiction, whilst also disrupting the reader and saying, you know, this is not a dusty period. this is not a dusty novel. it's modern, its contemporary. well, i think anybody reading this book would come to the conclusion that you might have been quite happy at that time. do you think you would have been? yes, i was born 100 years too late, i suspect. sarah perry, author of the essex serpent, thank you very much. thank you. mother nature has been keeping us on
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oui’ mother nature has been keeping us on our toes so far this week apart part of the north—east. we have had someone of the north—east. we have had someone to e showers, but in eastern scotla nd someone to e showers, but in eastern scotland it was a glorious day. not so scotland it was a glorious day. not so the case of the midlands, in leicestershi re so the case of the midlands, in leicestershire some threatening clouds here will stop plenty of showers as we ran through the day. you can see the showers and where they sat, mostly across the east. as we go through overnight, most showers will drift south and west. a blanket of cloud across england and wales will prevent the temperatures from falling too low for a frost. the temperatures will hold up quite nicely. the card will be big enough for the odd spot or two of rain first thing in the morning, from this week whether front that will sink south and west. in sheltered
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eastern areas, dry, southern wearer —— sunny weather. the showers should stay few and far between. most look to be the father north and west you are. it will feel reasonable in the sunshine. things looked promising for the start of the bank on a day weekend as well, a good slice of dry weather. breezy but milder. but there is some rain in the offing, most likely to be gearing sunday. on saturday, a good day, a good deal of dry weather, a scattering of showers. the breeze picks up by the end of the day, the first signs of the weather front pushing in. there is still a level of uncertainty to just where the low pressure is
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likely to be sitting across the south—west gearing sunday, but at the moment it looks as though the rain will be sitting across much of cornwall, devon, somerset, dorset and wales. keep watching the forecast, the area could change, but it looks as though it will move erratically north and east, taking showery rain with it. it clears away on monday, but a good deal of dry weather still. hello, i'm ros atkins, this is outside source. straight to the us. the pentagon has opened an inquiry into donald trump's former national security adviser. michael flynn is accused of accepting payments from foreign groups without permission. we'll be live in new york. the eu says it has a joint and final position on brexit negotiations. the point is, we are united, we have a clear line and we are ready. the eu says it is prepared. angela
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merkel hopes the uk is too. translation: unfortunately i get the feeling that some people in britain still have illusions — that would be a waste of time. syria has accused israel of causing a huge explosion near damascus airport. we'll talk to bbc arabic about that. and we'll be live in philadelphia to discuss donald trump's

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